Why the Timberwolves will likely not trade D’Angelo Russell

D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
D’Angelo Russell, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The NBA trade deadline is just a week away, and it is do or die time for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The most popular name in trade talks all season long has been D’Angelo Russell, and things looked to be heading in the direction of the two parting ways from the start of the season.

With D-Lo’s slow start to the year in October and November, talks about shipping him out became widespread among the Timberwolves fanbase. Subsequent reports of interest from other teams around the league made it appear even more likely that Minnesota’s point guard could be gone by the trade deadline.

Add in the fact that Russell’s response to the rumors did not do much to convince the public otherwise, and it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the Timberwolves would end up trading their floor general. But recent events in the last several weeks have begun to change that narrative.

D’Angelo Russell has significantly raised his level of play since the start of December.

While it is not a guarantee Russell remains in Minnesota, the possibility that the Timberwolves may not trade him after all seems to be increasing. Part of this is due to his much improved on-court production.

For much of the early part of the season, D’Angelo Russell’s lackluster defense was compounded by his offensive inconsistency. At the end of November, he was averaging just 14.6 points per game. If he had continued to score at that rate, it would have been his lowest scoring average since his rookie season with the Lakers.

But since the start of December, Russell has significantly picked up his effort, averaging 20.3 points and shooting an incredible 42.8% from three-point range. His improved offensive efficiency has been one of the main catalysts of the Timberwolves’ ascent back into the playoff picture.

The Timberwolves have likely not been offered enough to get a deal done.

As a result, Minnesota has seen their faith in D’Angelo Russell restored. With him operating at this level, they trust him to be the offensive weapon they need as they look to contend for a championship. But the other big motivation in keeping D-Lo around likely comes from the trade packages that the Timberwolves were offered when shopping around.

The Heat, Suns, Mavericks, and Clippers were all reported to have interest in acquiring D’Angelo Russell at some point. But from what we know, it does not appear that any of those teams extended an offer that had the Timberwolves jumping at the opportunity. If they had, Russell would likely not be in Minnesota right now.

Miami, for example, wanted to send the Wolves Kyle Lowry. An aging point guard with increasingly limited offensive firepower is not what Minnesota needs at this point in time. While no proposed deals with specific details have been leaked, we can assume that the Timberwolves made a wise choice in choosing to roll with Russell based on the players made available from these teams.

With these factors taken into consideration, the possibility of the Minnesota Timberwolves trading D’Angelo Russell in the next week appears lower than ever. What direction they choose to take with him in the offseason remains to be seen, but he will almost certainly be with the club through the rest of the current season.

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